TRAIN operator Northern – which runs services on the Airedale line – has undergone a change at the top.

Tricia Williams, who joined the company as chief operating officer in 2020, has been appointed managing director.

And her former role has been taken on by Matt Rice.

Prior to joining Northern, Ms Williams held a number of executive roles with Manchester Airports Group, during which time she oversaw major transformation and customer growth.

She also spent 20 years with the United Utilities Group, in various operational leadership and strategic posts.

"After several great years as chief operating officer it’s an absolute honour to take on the managing director role," says Ms Williams.

"We have big challenges ahead of us, but Northern is in a strong position and Matt and the rest of the director leadership team are committed to creating an inclusive culture, and improving performance and our customer experience."

Mr Rice joined Northern from Network Rail, where he was route director for the north and east.

In his new role, he will spearhead all Northern service and engineering functions across the region, including 2,500 services a day to more than 500 stations.

Mr Rice says: "I am looking forward to working with Tricia and my colleagues across the region to deliver for our customers.

"I have spent my career focused on making things better, and I am committed to fostering a positive workplace culture for all and delivering great rail services for people throughout the north of England."

He will be supported in his role by three regional directors – Craig Harrop, who heads up Northern’s operations in the north west; Kerry Peters, who has responsibility for Yorkshire, the East Midlands and Humberside; and Jason Wade, who was recently appointed to oversee the north east.

Northern is the second largest train operator in the UK, and growing.

Earlier this year it launched a campaign to recruit 18 engineering apprentices across its maintenance depots, including at Leeds.

Successful applicants are undertaking a four-year training programme.

Jack Commandeur, engineering director with Northern, said: "A regular intake of apprentices is important to help nurture the next generation of railway engineers and engineering leaders.

"Apprentices can develop their skills and experience in an environment that speaks to their passion for science and technology."